Mixtape review-ILOVEMAKONNEN x Ronny J
Makonnen is so much better in an unorthodox state. Whenever he tries to fit the traditional role of rapper or R & B singer he ends up sounding very out of sorts. I think he is at the very cutting edge of making music that achieves bits of both but only without the pressure of expectations (this entire rundown applies to Lil Yachty as well). So it makes sense that when I listened to his new five song collection and thought he was back on track Makonnen himself stated this is not a tape just the two having fun. It proves my point. It has to be loose.
Makonnen has a voice that can be annoying or enchanting with a very thin line to separate. His commitment to it and use of audaciously emotional content matches up perfectly with off kilter bass burps and sharp sounds that Ronny J brings into the production. They keep it weird and stark and it works. Y U Leave is a song that takes over the landscape of your mind with far away vocal overdubs and a lurching melody.
Paper Chase is a little more celebratory and Ronny J really fuzzes up the foreground to produce a splendidly creepy trap beat to collect checks to. Lonely Thoughts features a superb guest appearance by Teddy, it’s exactly the kind of song I come to Makonnen for. Ronny J makes the strings cry over 808’s while Makonnen leverages an even more wounded delivery to his vocal performance. He’s not a stand out verse guy who is going to dazzle you with bars but if left to his own devices he can fill your music storage with something you only get from him. Something I wish I could describe better.
Kick It is the last song and high point of this song collection (which boasts some thoughtful shifts in tempo from loneliness to braggadocio to anger). He tells his mom to sit down while he goes out to hustle, “I wasn’t proud of what I did man I had F%*@in’ frowns, I lost so many F!*#in’ friends I buried them in the ground.” While it is a song about the potent emotional state of hustling he sounds so earnest which makes how catchy it is earned.
I definitely want him to do what Lil Uzi did and figure out his blueprint for the main stage. He has dropped off tapes and loosies but when he puts a debut together I’d like him to push for another level of what he’s best at. Maybe he needs to develop a plan for that, maybe plans are not best for him. He might just need pen pad food and Ronny J.
stream or download ILOVEMAKONNEN x Ronny J below:
Song of The Year-College Girls by P-Lo featuring Skizzy Mars
People who love fun hip pop music were a little let down by Lil Yachty’s debut album Teenage Emotions which turned out to be oppressively long and confusingly muddled with several elements that don’t serve Yachty well. If you are looking for the album to fill what Yachty was supposed to achieve P-Lo has done it with his new album More Than Anything.
It’s not fair to compare Yachty to P-Lo because the latter is a veteran who has worked closely with IAMSU for years and helped build the ratchet sound. P-Lo produces his own music as well as handing out bangers to other people. He knows exactly what works about his sound and builds on it without straying from it.
College Girls is the best example of P-Lo cracking the code on an earwig hit. The autotune isn’t overwhelming; the content is playfully sexual but not insulting. The baseline is amazing. Neither Yachty nor P-Lo are the world’s best MC but both have the ability to give the listener what they want, I vote for More Than Anything not just because it is six songs shorter but it is a tight shot group of the fun P-Lo knows I want to have. All the guests are in the right places. He’s been around too long to worry about proving anything. For P-Lo every song needs to win and as a listener I appreciate that.
Song of The Year-Ispy by Kyle featuring Lil Yachty
Rap should have more genre’s within it, some record stores still dump it in R & B. At this point it is crazy to compare J.I.D- The Never Story or Raekwon –The Wild with Kyle, Yachty, or D.R.A.M. In September of 2013 I wrote up a review for Kyle’s song Fruit Snacks & Cups of Patron which became a big earwig for me (snuck its way in damn near every playlist). My review comments on the divide between radio rap and the denser stuff ” The lyricism barely exists here like animals in the desert, surviving without much sustenance. I don’t really mind, I’ll get my lyricism elsewhere. ” This is how you should look at it. Don’t feel guilty that Kyle and Yachty are experts in making songs that dig into you and never leave. Ispy is a damn good time.
The shocking part of Ispy for me is a line early in the song from Kyle. Out of nowhere Kyle says “That’s a real hot album homie, I wonder who wrote it? Oh shit.” Obviously a down the middle shot at Drake on the biggest hit of Kyle’s career. It is a great example of how flat the rap world is now. Drop this song back in the 90’s and switch Drakes diss for an LL Cool J diss, Cool James would use his industry connections to DESTROY both careers and shut down the wave (he did this with Canibus). He could do that because the music industry really had people pulling the strings and if you had experience you could make someone’s situation untenable.
As of now this song is a smash with a great chorus and it pops up on the right blogs, the right playlists so it can’t be stopped. Your favorite rapper breaks things the same way Kyle does, every single is a penny in the wishing well and you just wait to get what you asked for. The guys on top can’t really do much to control what is said about them, the pressure they can bring to bear is minimal even to someone several tiers down. Did Yachty know about this shot when he first got his spot on the track? Doesn’t matter, as long as he keeps supplying fun music you and your dog will bob its head to, he wins.
I’m glad cause sometimes I just want to relax.
Song of The Year-Like A Rockstar by Kodie Shane featuring Saucy Longwe produced by Matty P, Stonii Tha Melody God & D. Clax
Kodie Shane’s new mixtape is called Big Trouble Little Jupiter and it is a great example of why Atlanta WINS. Atlanta is the epicenter of weird (in my opinion the Bay Area is right up there as well). If Kodie Shane dropped a slamming anthem like this in NY the media would start debating whether it stacked up to old EPMD singles or whether this is even rap. What is real hip hop? Yuck.
This hook is fantastic, the beat pounds and leads into a guitar solo. Big Trouble Little Jupiter has 10 songs and they are all experiments. Your Side ventures into that 90’s R &B sound, Be With or Without is a lush break up song over a tough as jerky trap beat. Big Trouble Little Jupiter will look right at your preconceptions and shout WHO CARES. It is rap, it is singing, it is gorgeous, it is ugly.
If you read The Fader article about her it will not surprise you to hear that Shane is aligned with Yachty and the manager of The Migos. Those are all smart oddballs and it is quite apparent listening to Like A Rockstar that Kodie knows how to throw her voice where it is best needed. In this case it is tense and brazen in other places it is smooth and goes down like hot cocoa on a sore throat (how is this my reference? I am so old. So very old.). It is refreshing that we live in a hip hop culture that nurtures an artist like Kodie Shane because I shudder to think how many my generation left behind keeping the sound “pure”.
stream or download Big Trouble Little Jupiter:
Mixtape Review-Lil Boat by Lil Yachty
The second most tiresome argument in hip hop (intrinsically connected to the first-the street authenticity argument) is definitely the “___ is not hip hop!” argument. The hip hop v. rap argument is a subset of this. While it is logically unnerving like driving a friend around in your Kia while they maintain that this is not a car…a corvette is a car; it does yield benefits. This bubbling hostility attached to almost every new popular artist keeps them hungry and fresh. Drake made so much money last year why should he even try anymore? Well, he can’t escape the criticism of him singing too much or not writing his lyrics. The only way to win against these prevailing winds is to hammer away with more success. Amongst the names you’ll hear filling the space of “___ is not hip hop!” Lil Yachty is #1 in 2016.
At this point, most heads have accepted that whatever Young Thug is doing he’s good at it. What is Yachty even doing? On Lil Boat he creates 2 personalities: the sunny warm and autotune drenched Yachty and the tough talking hard-nosed Lil Boat. The two personas hand songs over to one another over fourteen tracks of weirdo producers’ weirdest beats. I tried to play this in the car and my wife’s first reaction was “I can’t do this much auto-tune for too long.” If I only got one song I made sure it was 1 Night. At the end of it I told my wife about Yachty being a divisive figure and asked her what she thought…after a pause she said “I’m split. This is disgusting but…I love this chorus.” I think that’s a pretty good introduction to Lil Boat.
The hooks are amongst the best you’ll find in music; Wanna Be Us has nothing I remember other than the chorus. 1 Night has verses but they aren’t anything I’d be excited to quote to anyone luckily it is equipped with a chorus you will never shake. Yachty is so weird. He can do a really muted, pretty song like I’m Sorry and a big snarling posse track like the Minnesota remix (with Young Thug, Quavo, & Skippa Da Flippa).
As finger snappin’ fresh and pop friendly as Out Late is the real hip hop head has a sound argument that no quotables exist here, not even a lot of recognizable verses. Make no bones about it, this is hip hop. The mixtape is about living recklessly and never switching up, the thing is it doesn’t sound like what you remember hip hop to be…but isn’t that what we want? I thought we were tired of copycat rappers trying to sound like the greats? Yachty is just Yachty and now he can’t be hip hop cause bars aren’t his strong suit…fine with me. The divisive artist usually wins so I’m not worried. We had this argument before with Kid Cudi and hip hop has changed. Burberry Perry has the most repeat production credits on Lil Boat and truly gets the off kilter exquisiteness of Yachty’s bleeding voice, I hope they push it further. I hope the next mixtape is some elaborately off key Ziggy Stardust hip hop adventure, hopefully even weirder…something it will take us years to figure out.
stream or download Lil Boat below: